Selling and Buying a House at the Same Time

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By Katy Byrom Updated April 11, 2024

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Risks of selling and buying at the same time | How to sell and buy at the same time | Resources that can help

Can I sell and buy a house at the same time?

Although selling and buying a house are two separate transactions, you can do both at the same time. Timing makes it a tricky process. The biggest risks are:

  • Getting in over your head with two mortgages you can't afford.
  • Being left out in the cold without a place to stay after selling your current home.

Fortunately, you can take steps to mitigate those risks so you can move closer to your goal of buying and selling a house simultaneously.

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You could pull off selling and buying at the same time if... Selling and buying at once might not make sense for you if...
  • Your house is ready to sell (e.g., no repairs)
  • You have cash or mortgage pre-approval
  • You have a back-up option for housing in the interim
  • Your house isn't ready to list
  • You're not prepared to carry two mortgages at once
  • You don't have mortgage pre-approval yet
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Is it better to sell your house before buying another?

Solutions ⏱ You have time ⏱ You don't have time
💰 You have savings Lease-back agreement » Overlapping mortgages »
💰 You don't have savings Down payment assistance » Cash buyer or iBuyer »
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It’s generally easier to sell your current house first so that you can use the proceeds to buy the next house. But the best course of action depends on your timeline and whether you have enough funds to carry two mortgages.

Lease-back agreement

Rent-back agreements (or lease-back) let you sell your home first then rent until you can close on your new home. They also allow you to minimize moves. Keep in mind that your rent payments won't go toward building equity.

Overlapping mortgages

If timing doesn't work out and you're fortunate enough to afford higher monthly expenses temporarily, you could plan to have a few months of two mortgages. However, getting a new mortgage while you're still paying off your current one may be tricky since your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio will go up.

One solution to protect yourself — and put your lender's mind at ease — is to include a home sale or home of choice contingency in one of your contracts.

Down payment assistance

Depending on the program, you could be eligible for:

  • Loans with down payment requirements as low as 3.5% (versus the conventional 20%)
  • Funds to use toward down payments or closing costs
  • Forgivable loans or grants to live in a specific location or for certain occupations

Many of these assistance programs are for first-time or low-income home buyers.

» SEE: More ways to fund a down payment

Cash buyer or iBuyer

Selling to a "we buy houses for cash" company or iBuyer is a reliable way to sell your house fast, but you'll have to sell your home for below market value. These companies buy houses at a discount and then resell them on the open market.

In exchange for taking a cut in the price, you can close on your home sale and cash out within two weeks.

Get offers from top local cash home buyers now!

How to sell a house and buy at the same time

1. Get mortgage pre-approval

Securing mortgage pre-approval from your lender streamlines the home buying process and reduces the risk that you'll hit a financing snag. A buyer is more inclined to work with somebody who already has pre-approval because it lessens the risk that the deal will go south.

One of the heavy lifts of buying a new home is the down payment. Fortunately, you’ve got options that are designed to assist with the down payment.

Home equity line of credit

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a type of revolving line of credit that has similar features to a credit card. You use the value of your home as collateral. You are given a credit limit and can draw on that as needed via a check or card tied to the account. When it comes time to repay, HELOCs have interest rates attached that tend to be variable in nature. Only borrow what you can repay, since you can lose your home if you don't repay the credit.

Bridge loan

A bridge loan "bridges the gap" when you are selling and buying a house at the same time. The term typically lasts for less than a year. It’s a loan that provides the capital you’ll need to buy a new home before your current residence sells. Direct the funds toward a down payment or toward an existing mortgage — wherever the need is greater. Bridge loans carry higher-than-average interest rates due to the short-term nature of the loans and you might need to use your home as collateral to secure the loan.

Low down payment mortgage and down payment assistance

If you fall in the low-to-moderate income camp, you can access down payment assistance programs from most state housing finance agencies. You may also be eligible for low or no down payment mortgages with FHA, USDA or VA loans.

2. List your home for sale

Once you secure financing, listing your home for sale will set the wheels in motion for selling and buying a house at the same time.

Meanwhile, you can use your time to aggressively shop for a new house while your current house is on the market. If the timing hits just right, you could be walking out of your old home and into the new one on the same day.

A top agent will help you set a strategic home price, handle the open houses, and schedule showings to sell your house — as well as provide support when considering offers and negotiating a deal. Find a top realtor near you today and save thousands!

👋 Need a great agent on your side?

Connect with top local agents who can help you sell on time and for top dollar. You'll pay just a 1.5% listing fee (half the typical rate), helping you save thousands!

How do you put an offer on a house before selling yours?

If you want to put an offer on a house before selling yours, we recommend adding a contingency to the offer, especially if you’ll need that cash when it comes time to buy.

A contingency gives you the courtesy of selling your home first before being required to buy the new one. If the seller of the new home agrees, you buy yourself some time to see it through. On the off chance you are not able to sell your home in a reasonable amount of time, as stated in the contract, you are off the hook.

Considering you’re doubling the size of your debt, lenders may be less likely to pre-approve you for a second mortgage, which could interfere with your purchase.

  • Home sale lets you exit your purchase contract if your current house doesn’t sell, or
  • Home of choice lets you exit the sale if you can’t find a new home

If the seller extends you the courtesy of a contingency, you might find yourself doing the same on your current home. A double contingency arises when two separate deals are dependent on contingencies: the contract associated with you buying a new home and the one associated with you selling your existing one.

Rent-back agreement

If you want to sell and buy a house simultaneously, a rent-back agreement will let you live in your home for a while as a tenant even after selling. This can be a good idea if you expect it will take you longer to buy a new home.

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Resources that help you buy and sell at the same time

Selling and buying a house at the same time is a delicate dance, one in which you might want to involve a professional to handle. They have done this before and know the tricks of the trade as well as the pitfalls to avoid. Here are a few options worth looking into.

Availability Cost Timeline
Realtor Nationwide 4.5–6% Avg. 2 months from initial listing through closing
Knock 50+ metro areas across AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, MD, MI, MN, NC, OR, SC, TN, TX, WA 1.25% of new home’s purchase price + $1,450 processing and underwriting fees 4 days: pre-qualification within 48 hours, approval within another 48 hours
Opendoor AL, AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, GA, ID, IN, MN, MO, NV, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, OR, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA 5% of sale price, minus plus any deductions for repairs or closing costs or repairs 14–45 days for buyers; 14–60 days for sellers (based on preferred closing date)
Orchard Select markets across CO, GA, MD, NC, OR, TX, VA (Move First); Denver or TX (Buy With Orchard) 10–20% down payment + 2% earnest money deposit + 2–5% closing costs Orchard will buy your house if it doesn't sell after 4 months (120 days)
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Real estate agent

An experienced full-service agent is your best option for selling quickly and getting the most money out of your home. Your agent will list and sell your home while helping you shop for your new home.

When time is of the essence, rely on a professional to strike a balance between buying and selling your house at the same time. Real estate agents are experts in their respective markets and know the tricks of the trade.

Plus, if you use the same agent to sell your house and find your new one, you'll have leverage to negotiate a lower commission rate.

Clever offers access to local market experts in all 50 states and Washington, DC.Get full service for just 1.5% ($3,000 minimum). Pay a reduced fee only if your home actually sells. Buyers don’t pay a dime. Clever customers save an average of $7,000 per transaction. Real estate agents typically charge a 6% commission.Clever sellers get offers 2.8x faster than the national average. Clever is equipped with the latest tech to help you move fast.
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👋 Get a better agent AND bigger savings

Why pay more in commission fees for less service? Clever offers you bigger savings without sacrificing the service you expect from a traditional realtor.

With Clever:

 ✅ You'll only pay 1.5% to list your home

 ✅ You'll work with a full-service realtor from a top broker

 ✅ It's free, with zero obligation — you can walk away at any time

Saving on realtor fees doesn't have to mean sacrificing service. Find a top local agent today!

Opendoor

Opendoor is a digital platform for buying and selling your home, known as an iBuyer. It buys houses for cash and sells them in the open market for a profit.

If you’re selling and buying a house at the same time, Opendoor could be a good option because they pay cash money for houses. On the downside, you could probably get a higher price for your house by going the traditional realtor route.

Knock

The Knock Home Swap program that lets you move into your new house earlier than you otherwise could. The company gives sellers the opportunity to access equity in their home to buy a new house before the old one is sold. Sellers can even get up to $25,000 in interest-free funding for other costs like home repairs.

This option is good for somebody who is looking to plunk down cash for a new home to incentivize the seller. But you’re limited to Knock’s mortgage products, which could be a drawback for someone looking for greater flexibility.

Orchard

Orchard allows you to buy your next home before you sell your current one and offers cash-backed financing to home buyers.

Orchard's Move First program lets home buyers harness 90% of the equity in their current homes to make an offer on another one with zero contingencies even before they sell.

Home buyers might find this service attractive for the cash on-hand that will sweeten their offer among the competition.

You won’t get a quick sale with Orchard. Its service is meant to cover you between selling and buying a house. So, if time is of the essence, this service is probably not for you.

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Our experts continually research, evaluate, and monitor real estate companies and industry trends. We update our articles when new information becomes available.

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